directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Short film

View a still from the film

The premise of Foutaises is simple: a man reels off a list of the things he likes and the things he hates. The personable, yet anonymous, protagonist presents his thoughts as a stream of consciousness.  He darts from one topic to another, seemingly at random, from the mundane to the existential. The dexterous editing brings together a vast array of visual snippets, from Tintin cartoons to animated vegetables. Given their eclectic, eccentric nature, it is as if we are witnessing the inner workings of a person’s mind projected onto the screen.

The list is dominated by sensory experiences, communicated to us via the extreme elasticity of the man’s face. The camera’s tight close-ups and carefully chosen angles embellish each expression. In one passage that describes favoured food rituals, we watch as a quivering egg yolk is lowered into a mouth completely whole. The image plays to our senses, leaving us to feel the slimy sensation and shudder or smile at the thought. Through humour and charm, Jean-Pierre Jeunet brings us into another world, even if only for a few minutes; the credits begin to roll all too soon.

Words by Katherine Fieldgate

The narrator of Foutaises documents his various likes and dislikes, as if all aspects of life may be pigeonholed as one or the other. His black-and-white reasoning is paralleled by a lack of colour onscreen, while his exaggerations are matched by an impressive range of facial contortions. He grimaces at the thought of butcher’s shop windows, gurns while eating an egg yolk, and shrieks as he plucks a nose hair. The film’s sound effects and editing techniques are just as hyperbolic. The crunch of a biscuit is amplified to match avalanches and collapsing buildings in both volume and importance.

Another section shows a finger gently tracing a line down a naked body, before cutting without warning to a montage of fleshy medical illustrations. The narrator underlines the disconcerting juxtaposition: ‘I hate to make love to a woman and think of what’s inside.’ The shift in tone is accompanied by a scream, which encroaches upon the next item in line: ‘I like old catalogues.’ The unrest is sustained, suggesting a level of ambiguity absent from the spoken words. Through such filmmaking tricks, Foutaises toys with the viewer. It reminds us that however clearly the narrator may see the world, the reality is far from straightforward.

Words by John Wadsworth

More to discover

You can watch the film here.

Question of the day

Should critics assess art based on their personal likes and dislikes?
Share your thoughts on Facebook
Patreon, or Twitter.

Ideally, no, but I think it’s impossible. It can also be fulfilling to read a biased teardown review of an artwork that you dislike.

– Amber Arcades, musician (via The Brief →)

Only if they can like or dislike the work on its own terms. If they dislike the style or genre, they should not assess the work.

– Lusine, musician (via The Brief →)

Also on Silent Frame